January 7, 2012

Distracted by three year old postings (Botcon 2009, Part 1)

Filed under: Uncategorized — fairplaythings @ 1:15 pm

So I promised in my last post that I would talk about my impressions of the 2012 Botcon set. Which was the plan until I remembered that I’d done this very thing before for a previous set. Having done some work, I thought I’d see if I could keep the flow of the new review consistent with the old.

I am pleased to (re)discover I’d created a value guide to impart my views on the toys. It’s a pretty good one (far simpler than the one I was running earlier last year with my toy of the day efforts) three years on, so I’m going to keep it for the purposes of the Botcon set.

For reference:

  • Scalper Price (5) - “This toy is so insanely good - be it in terms of innovation, nostalgia or just plain coolness - that I will not think twice before being overcharged on a piece of plastic by someone who existence is satisfied by gouging.”
  • Direct Market Price (4) - “This toy is too good to risk not finding on the store shelves of my local Zellers or Target, that I must pay more than traditional retail to a smaller comic/toy shop that carries the item.””
  • Standard Retail Price (3) - “This toy is pretty good and I can’t wait to see it on the toy shelves so I make sure to get the best one going at the most affordable retail outlet.”
  • Advertised Price (2) - “This toy is good enough that owning it will leave a bit of a hole in the collection but missing it won’t overburden me with guilt, so I can really take my chances.”
  • Discount Price (1) - “I see that the toy is on sale but I still wonder whether it is good for my collection.”
  • Occasionally an item will be beyond imagination and will register with an At Any Price (6). Conversely, sometimes an item will be so terrible that it will warrant an (At Any Price) (0).

So there you go. But I also discovered something else funny. I can’t comment on the post in question. And I really want to comment because, three years on, there are things we know now that we couldn’t know then. So our review of new toys is delayed while I wax on about older ones…

So let’s go back in time, to Botcon 2009, and relive the memories…

But It’s Not Animated!

Certainly the box set was hurt right out of the gate when it was discovered not to be new Transformers: Animated toys. My disappointment was palpable at the time (I even went so far as to develop a mold upon which to create the character) and little did I know that almost a full conventions worth of toys for Animated would arrive in 2011.

But I would have to say my assessments were pretty accurate. The 2009 set is possibly the least popular of the seven FunPub Botcon sets to date, as evidenced by how easy it was to get remainders from the “exclusives firesale” underway at Botcon 2011 (although it was a good way to get exclusives for my nephew without breaking the bank…)

Elite Guard Kup - Kup suffers from being the first character out of the gate, and proof positive that the entire set would not serve as a tribute to Animated. As such, he took a fair number of hits that may not have been entirely justified. To the good, he makes use of a terrific Cybertron Mode (Red Alert), a terrific head sculpt and an accurate blue shading for the body. Regardless of what I think of the toy mould, however, it doesn’t seem to suit Kup particularly well, particularly the cab. Failure to substitute a real left hand for the pre-existing laser seems to be a shortcoming.  And the orange striping is distracting. The result is that I’m conflicted and Kup ends up skating between Direct and Retail (3.5).

  • (He would have been so good as a retooled Cybertron Mode Deluxe Optimus Prime.)

Time has both helped and hurt Kup. That mold is still amazing, and any toy that gets to use it as a base (be it Cybertron Red Alert, Cybertron Cannonball, or Classics Crankcase) gets a big thumbs up from me.

But Hasbro actually made a Kup for Classics 3.0. A good one too. And there is something wrong about Kup looking so young. Makes me feel a bit dirty. Only because of my love affair with this mold, I’d upgrade my estimate to a Direct (4.0) grade.

Elite Nemesis Scourge - Besides the fact that I have no idea how they are going to keep a story where Scourge is in the past in current continuity without trickery, Scourge fares better, and worse, than Kup. The negatives first - I pretty much universally hate this mold. It really doesn’t do a lot for me. The only time it worked for me was for Ratbat, and then because it looked so much like the War Within depiction of the character. That said, a decent paint application (including an excellent use of contrasting red) and a terrific head retool makes Scourge the winner in the set. Particularly if the “attendee-only” special is a slightly modified Huntsmen Sweep. A Direct (4) grade for Scourge in the final analysis.

  • (Still, how cool would a modified Cybertron Mode Deluxe Megatron from the Optimus-Megatron two pack be?)

Of course, Scourge was worked into the story by telling the story of young Kup as flashback during the tumultuous escape from the Decepticons in Transformers: The Movie. And the attendee-only special was not, in the end, a Huntsman Sweep, but rather obscure Japanese character, Leozak. But we did get our Sweeps in the end, courtesy of a build-an-army set…

But more on that later. Scourge was and remains a strange one. While I confess to continued indifference to this mode, I might actually like the vehicle mode BETTER than the official Classics 3.0 release. (I’m probably in the minority and coloured by my love of the deluxe Titanium line, but Titanium Scourge is still my favourite rendering of the character.) The situation was not helped by Hasbro’s decision not to include a targetmaster for him, like they had for Cyclonus.

In any case, I’d leave Scourge with a Direct (4) grade.

Elite Guard Landshark - I have terribly conflicted feelings on Landshark. I want to like him but I just can’t bring myself to fall in love with him. While it is nice to see a new character, and a name that gives props to one of the molds predecessors, I’m still not sold on the character name. Why that matters in a world of Lugnut and Sixknight is beyond me, but it distracts me nonetheless. While the mould is first rate, I really hoped they would hold out the big bucks for Thunderclash, rather than spend it on the new guy. The paint application would have been really appealing if (a) he had been Roadbuster, (b) a perfectly acceptable Roadbuster hadn’t already been issued at retail, and (c) they had gone for some visor subtlety and used an orange or grey instead of that distracting blue. But I really like that mould, so he joins Kup in limbo between Direct and Retail (3.5).

  • (I think I’ve have gone with an albino Deluxe Sentinel Prime in this case, or called him what he is (Roadbuster) and, resisting the urge to call for a repainted Voyager Bulkhead, kept the price point consistent for the set, saved cost for Thunderclash and deployed a repainted Deluxe Soundwave accordingly. At least he offers the possibility of treating Laserbeak as a repainted Buzzsaw to join with Scourge…)

Not sure where I was going there with the Animated Buzzsaw comment. I must have grander schemes than I alluded to here.

Anyway, I still like the mold, I’m less concerned about the “Landshark” moniker, and the colours are okay. But I can’t get worked up about him, so he goes down a half notch, to Retail (3.0).

Elite Guard Flak - They should call him Elite Guard Fail. Oh don’t mistake me, the fancy new face is pretty. But I’m not crazy about adding an upsized micromaster to this group, particularly when there are so many other Gen 1.5 Euroformers that could be up to the task (Scorch? Pyro? Where are you, Rotorstorm?). Moreover, like Roadbuster Landshark, we already have a slightly-flawed-but-perfectly-correctable Classics version pegwarming at a store near you in Decepticon Dropshop. Unlike Landshark, we now have a lot of the value of the set invested into an arctic rendering of Autobot Overload, also pegwarming in the next aisle over. Frankly, Flak loses a full retail grade based on the simple fact that two version of the two are currently accessible at retail, pretty face or no, bringing him to an Advertised (2) price point.

  • (Again, not that anybody asked, I’d skip Animated Flak and either (a) bring out Big Shot as a remolded Shockwave (now that’s a tank!), or (b) brake plastic continuity (for Megatron is too simple to work…) and used Cybertron Evac to create an Animated-style version of Whirl with a new head sculpt.)

Of course, we would get Pyro in 2010, but that’s neither here nor there. Anyway, I was little surprised to find so many of the Flak, even with the new pretty head sculpt, littering the Botcon extra tables in 2011. There are those that love him, for sure, but he’s not flak. He’d have done better in his Japanese colours (as Powerbomb!) at least. As albino Flak, he stays at Advertised (2.0).

Elite Guard Thunderclash - I really want to love Thunderclash. I really do! I have a soft spot for a toy that landed on Canadian and not American toy shelves. I genuinely like the Energon Rodimus mould, even if I had hoped that the set would save some of its pricing bang earlier on and seriously upsized him to Cybertron Optimus Prime scale (as unrealistic as that might be to bring a Leader class into the mix) or even used the Energon Landmine mould here instead of with Landshark. I even respect the quality of the paint applications which make the best of what they can of transferring the original’s fluorescent colours onto a completely different body (even if I disagree with moving the Autobot symbol outside the eagle). All this going for him - desire, (compromise) mould, paint application - and in the end he looks like a weird prototype. Because he’s Thunderclash, he skirts the no man’s land between Retail and Advertised (2.5).

  • (Who is Animated Thunderclash? I’m taking my coin I saved with Soundwave-repainted Roadbuster and bringing forward none other than Voyager Class Optimus Prime. Given now the axe looks nothing like the cartoon version but actually looks a bit like a trailer, the mould actually might look better as ‘Clash than as Prime.)

I finally understand the Buzzsaw comment now. Weird.

Thunderclash would also end up as Shattered Glass Thunderclash in the custom class, so some of us ended up with two versions of him. I even scooped up a sale version of him for a future Custom project. But he really is a Advertised (2.0) grade. Sorry.

Wings of Honour (Set) - Despite wanting to refer to the set as “Wings of Steel” (does that mean Scourge is “Screaming for Vengeance”), Wings of Honour comes out with an average of 3.1, and approaching retail land. Based on anticipated quality of the box (I know I know, but I like how they look…), I’m willing to put the whole set between Direct and Retail (3.5), and call it a night.

(And dream of perfecting digibashing so I can bring Animated Kup, Scourge, Thunderclash, Whirl and Roadbuster to a website near you…)

Oh man. When I retire, will I do anything but kitbashes? I love my ideas for the Wings of Honours Animated set. But on this set, the total score fell to Retail 3.0. Which is really where it belongs.

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